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It's hard sometimes, too, to call out another agency or political institution that's causing problems because the political world of any city is a small one, and everything is interrelated in ways that makes everyone hesitant to offend anyone, I think.

Alon Levy

For larger agencies, isn't there a way of using the fact that school peaks are earlier than work peaks? School typically starts at 8-8:30 and work at 9, so the am peak is a little different. The pm peak is very different, to the point that New York City Transit starts pm peak hour service on some buses an hour earlier on school days.


And while transit dies, highways are being repaired and re built. WUT THU FUK


I do recall that where I grew up (Rochester), elementary school started around 9 am and high school at 7:30 am, specifically to ease the scheduling of yellow school buses. There was a lot of bickering over that from parents who had to get up at 6 am to get their kids out of bed. My mom solved it by letting me do it on my own :)


Highways aren't being repaired and rebuilt, they're just building new ones while the old ones rot and fall down.


1. Remember the MTA surplus from a few years ago? It could have been set aside for a "rainy day", but it instead went to the TWU.

2. If schools peak at 3PM and the normal peak is at 5PM, then some of the school vehicles can be reused later in the day.

3. The MTA is not "generous" when it provides students with free rides. Generosity is not defined by giving tax dollars to others.

4. Government services are chronically "in trouble" because they usually provide services at below-market values. Walmart would also be "in trouble" if it sold everything at 60% off.

5. The one part of the MTA that is not in trouble is Bridges and Tunnels. Perhaps if subway fares were also ten dollars, they would be fine too.

6. As with all other government agencies, the MTA's function has calcified. Politics leaves no room for innovation, no rewards for doing well, and no penalties for failure. Instead, we are left with a bus system, a police department, a school system, a post office, etc., etc., etc. whose purpose is the status quo in perpetuity as the rest of the word changes.

Alon Levy

1. The bonus didn't go to the TWU - the TWU got the same raise as everyone else. The bonus went to service improvements, like running the 3 at night.

2. The 3/5 pm peak issue is there - just look at MTA schedules. But the am peak is generally the worse peak - more people start working at 9 am than finish at 5 pm - and there there is less of a gap.

3-6. Close your Ayn Rand novels and live in the real world. If you want to stay in a fantasy world where the police is privatized and where there are no public schools, be my guest.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Re Alon's first comment, namely: For larger agencies, isn't there a way of using the fact that school peaks are earlier than work peaks? School typically starts at 8-8:30 and work at 9, so the am peak is a little different. The pm peak is very different, to the point that New York City Transit starts pm peak hour service on some buses an hour earlier on school days."

This varies a bit from one country to another, but in general, the morning peak is sharper than the afternoon peak because school and work commutes happen at about the same time. A difference between 8 and 9 AM, such as you suggest, really wouldn't be enough to get the two peaks separated, even if such a separation existed. In my experience, most school and work commuting overlaps. This is very expensive for transit agencies, as it's the height of the highest peak that determines the fleet requirement. If work and school peaks were as separate in the morning as they are in the afternoon, you'd see the same transport task done with smaller fleets.


I got to watch the reverse of this happening locally this year with some amusement: one of the local cities used the local transit to get kids to school, but decided it would cost less to buy buses and run separate school buses.
They announced that back in June, but it wasn't until late August that parents figured out what that would mean: staggered bell times. Rather than wastefully buy enough buses to serve all the schools at once, the city had staggered bell times so they could re-use buses in much the same way as the town I grew up in: pick up all the high school kids first, then the middle school kids, and finally the elementary school kids.
When the bus schedule for the new school year came out, parents suddenly realized that it meant the high school kids would leave the house 2 hours before the elementary school kids.
Now, where I grew up most parents found that system worked pretty good. High school kids got themselves up and ready, maybe seeing Mom just before they went out the door, then Mom got the middle school kids ready and on the stop, finally having a little "just us" time with the elementary school kid before putting him on the bus and then leaving for work. This works just fine, unless .... what if Mom needs to get to work before the elementary school starts.
That's what parents were complaining about: they needed the high school kids to put the elementary school kids on the bus, because Mom had already left for work. Mom needs to put in a full 8 hours at work and still get home to meet the school bus, and school generally runs about 7 1/2 hours, so ....
The high school kids can't babysit after school: those without afterschool sports or clubs have jobs.

I raised this just to serve as a reverse example of the principle that school systems, freed of direct responsibility for managing the buses that serve them, will arrange their schedules in ways that don't account at all for the problems for the bus operator. But I wonder if the local transit agency (Hampton Roads Transit) would have offered a more favorable bid for the service of carrying school kids for Hampton if the school system had offered to stagger their bell times exactly as they decided to when running their own buses. Was buying their own buses the cheapest option when comparing apples to apples?


Unfortunately, the *fundamental* problem goes back, as it always does, to the New York State Legislature, which has been plain broken for 20 years, maybe 30.

You can follow the shenanigans at thealbanyproject.com.

The NYS legislature has the root powers over the MTA (like everything else in the state, really), and often chooses to use them to make a big mess. It's been doing the same thing to the school districts, and to, oh, everything else I can think of.


Why is it that this only seems to happen in the USA? Maybe they need to drastically rethink their transit funding system?



Were Schwarzeneger to announce that he was going to close a freeway or two, due to inadequate funds to keep them in safe condition, there would be an uproar.


Actually, I think my last post is in response to a similar thread concerning California over on the transport politic. :)

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I love Volkswagen's Beetles very much. I think that this advertisement was extremely curious for that time.

Michael Pal

The MTA is always in financial trouble mainly because the lack of an adequate dedicated funding stream.

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